“And, Mr. Speaker, I’d also like to know why the House wasn’t allowed to vote on VAWA.”

It’s hard to believe that Eric Cantor really decided to keep the Violence Against Women Act renewal off the floor of the House because he was concerned about allowing tribal courts to try non-Native men accused of domestic violence on reservations. But that’s the story going around, and apparently neither Cantor nor anyone else in the House Republican (mis)leadership will explain.

I just can’t imagine why anyone would accuse a party devoted to protecting rapists and domestic assailants from the course of justice of waging a war on women. Can you?

I’m not generally a big fan of Cato the Censor, but if I were Nancy Pelosi I’d suggest that every speech by a Democrat, on any topic, end with the sentence “And, Mr. Speaker, I’d also like to know why the House was not allowed to vote on the Violence Against Women Act.”

When your opponent builds a gallows, ties a noose, sticks his head in it, stands on the trapdoor, and smiles, it’s just plan bad manners not to do your bit to speed him on his way. I haven’t looked closely at the map, but I’d bet that a bunch of the voters in the seats we need to flip to take control in 2014 are women, and that relatively few of those women are fans of rape and domestic violence.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

31 thoughts on “Srsly?”

  1. Cato’s Carthage warmongering is what he is best known for, but also the story that most offends modern liberal sentiments, or at least my own.

    In reality, he was a rare member of the peasant class to rise to the highest state offices, conspicuously avoided corruption when it was expected and normal, and was the scourge of corrupt colonial governors and oppressive tax farmers.

    His election to the office of censor was successful despite an attempt to corrupt and bribe voters for his opponents by those most guilty of looting the Roman Treasury and plundering the provences.

  2. “I haven’t looked closely at the map, but I’d bet that a bunch of the voters in the seats we need to flip to take control in 2014 are women, and that relatively few of those women are fans of rape and domestic violence.”

    You’d think that the whole Repug anti-women business would be a big vote-loser, because it is extremely negative for women, but doesn’t hold any great benefits for men (except for those who base their lifestyle around abusing women, but I really hope this is a minority of the male population). Yet somehow it doesn’t work this way. Unfortunately there is still a large contingent of people, including many women, who put a lot of the blame on the victim and believe it is a problem that doesn’t really affect prudent people such as themselves.

  3. Ok, why would anyone oppose the Violence Against Women Act, in any form?

    Maybe because Violence Against People Of Any Gender is already illegal? Rendering it redundant?

    We don’t need a Violence Against Women Act, a Violence Against Men Act, a Violence Against Hermaphrodites Act. We’ve long had a Violence Against People Act.

    Under the General Crimes Act (18 U.S.C.§ 1152)

    “Except as otherwise expressly provided by law, the general laws of the United States as to the punishment of offenses committed in any place within the sole and exclusive jurisdiction of the United States, except in the District of Columbia, shall extend to the Indian Country.
    This section shall not extend to offenses committed by one Indian against the person or property of another Indian, nor to any Indian committing any offense in the Indian Country who has been punished by the local law of the tribe, or to any case where, by treaty stipulations, the exclusive jurisdiction over such offenses is or may be secured to the Indian tribes respectively.”

    Is it illegal to beat somebody up, regardless of gender, in a federal park, or a military base, or the District of Columbia? Yes. It is equally illegal to beat somebody up, regardless of gender, in Indian reservations.

    Women don’t need a special law prohibiting violence against them, it is already illegal due to their being people.

    1. The law is not about prohibiting violence against women; it is about ensuring diligent prosecution of and redress for such crimes, and about programs to prevent their occurrence and assist their victims. Incidentally, most of the law is not actually specific to women, but benefits victims of sex crimes and domestic violence regardless of gender (who just happen to be disproportionately female, outside of prisons).

      In any event, this was not what House Republicans objected to. They passed a modified version of the bill, after all, from which they removed:

      (1) Protections for gay men and women.
      (2) Protections of native Americans living in reservations (what Mark referred to above).
      (3) Protections of illegal immigrants.

    2. One has got to wonder why Eric Cantor wasn’t man enough to utter Brett’s logical obscenities with a full throat. Why or why did Cantor instead choose to hide behind a “squaw’s” skirt? Tea Republicans should take Brett’s advice, speak their minds, and quit hanging themselves out dry by playing the “sissy” card. Please. Enough with trying to be “gents” in appearance. For real political success: Bring your Archie Bunkerism out of the bunker.

      1. What “logical obscenity”? It’s illegal to commit violence against ANYBODY. Therefore laws making it illegal to commit violence against specific groups are redundant. If you think efforts at prosecution are inadequate, address THAT. Piling redundant law on top of redundant law won’t make prosecutors any more inclined to act against people who are already breaking long-standing laws.

        There’s no hole in the law to patch.

        1. India has those laws too, Brett. Try taking your sthick to the women there.

          It is sad that an institutionalised misogynist culture could obstruct prosecutions for rape or battery, but there is surely evidence enough that specific procedures must be followed by law when these crimes occur against women.

          1. You know, I do have other things to do, besides lurk here.

            It is illegal to assault ‘gay’ men and women, native Americans, (Whether living on reservations or off.) and illegal aliens. Despite claims to the contrary at Mark’s 2nd link, reservations are not some kind of law free zone for non-indians.

            I do not believe any class of American should be “more equal”, than any other class, should get special protections.

            Nor do I believe this is even properly a federal matter. Haven’t they got other things to do, like spending us into bankruptcy?

            In short, I don’t believe in piling laws on top of laws.

          2. In other words, you didn’t reading it before repeating the same things that she refuted; you don’t intend to read it; and you don’t care what it says anyway.

            I’ll repeat what she said: the Act isn’t about making things a crime. It’s about ensuring that things that are crimes get prosecuted. There is a long, long history of your point that domestic violence is already against the law being true but irrelevant. If something is either very difficult to prosecute under current law, or prosecutors tend not to advance cases of it, the fact that it’s illegal doesn’t do the victims much good. Domestic violence has long had problems with both that the VAWA is meant to address. You can either deal with what the actual law does or continue to spout irrelevant nonsense. The choice is up to you.

          3. J., I followed Mark’s second link, which pretty clearly indicated that, without this law, there’s no legal obstacle to non-indians beating on indian women on reservations. “That means non-Native American men who abuse Native American women on tribal lands are essentially “immune from the law, and they know it,” Leahy said.”

            Which is stark nonsense. Am I not supposed to respond to the post itself?

            Yes, I read Katja’s comment. I’ve read the Wikipedia article on the act, which I think agrees with it. We have a fundamental disagreement here over what equal protection implies for criminal and civil law.

        2. “Logical obscenity” because like so much of your thinking you start with a simple truth: We’ve got clear laws that ban violence. You then cinch up the saddle on this simple logic and run it to death: We don’t need special laws for crimes committed against Christians that bite the heads off of pet turtles either. All this makes perfectly good logical sense. It is irrefutable so long as your premise captures the whole truth of the world. But obviously the world is much more complicated than your logic permits. If it wasn’t why would the Violence Against Woman Act actually exist? Do you think these lawmakers and the various groups behind it are just making stuff up for shits and giggles? But to see that you have to step outside of yourself. Perhaps walk in another Indians mocassins and ask yourself: Why do enormous number of people think this law is important? What do they know about the world that might simple logical premise fails to capture?

          1. Correction:

            What do they know about the world that my simple logical premise fails to capture?

    3. Is pretending that the commonly-used name for a bill is also the text of a bill your A-game?

  4. because he was concerned about allowing tribal courts to try non-Native men accused of domestic violence on reservations.

    That extends the power of (note quotes) “non-American” courts, which is of a piece with Agenda 21, the ICC and etc. Roughly, Native American courts might wind up making judgements on non-native Americans (read: whites) and the usual sorts are hard against that.

    I strongly suspect that Cantor’s move is honest (given that opposing anything the D’s want is the standard for R’s). Parts of the base think the bill gives us the black helicopters, and Cantor is riding along with them. Hey, the Texas lege passed a bill requiring the AG to determine if the sovereignty of Texas was being infringed. (The AG, having complied with the law, said, amazingly enough, no.)

    [‘My suspicion, not having read the law but assuming Congress does the usual, is that the law is pretty terrible from a civil liberties point of view, but is otherwise well-intended and (obviously) I don’t have a problem with the NA provision. But the R’s are going to oppose it because while they hate civil liberties in general, but they also hate perceived infringements of the rights of white men. So there you go.’]

    1. “Roughly, Native American courts might wind up making judgements on non-native Americans (read: whites) and the usual sorts are hard against that.”

      That is surely true, and surely ridiculous.

      I live in Florida. When I go back to Virginia to visit my kids and grandchildren, I will be tried by the courts of Virginia for any infraction I am accused of while there. Oh, the injustice of it all … a Floridian subject to the judgment of a non-Floridian court.

  5. When your opponent builds a gallows, ties a noose, sticks his head in it, stands on the trapdoor, and smiles, it’s just plan bad manners not to do your bit to speed him on his way.

    This is my problem with Obama – his bad manners on this issue. Sack up, man!

  6. Dr. Kleiman, I expect better from you.

    I agree that Cantor is not being straightforward with his reasoning. Maybe he thinks that Violence Against Women is an issue best handled at the state level and that that’s what the Constitution calls for, too. Wasn’t there a Supreme Court case about this not too long ago?

    1. Read Katya’s comment above. Cantor did not, as you carelessly surmise, reject the principle of federal legislation or even many of its specific provisions; he only stripped out those protecting gays, Native Americans and illegal immigrants. The latter two groups are in effect wards of the federal government.

  7. What’s real funny about this is that it occurred right after

    (1) all the woe-is-me-ing about how women, the lousy sluts with their damnable right to vote!, were overwhelmingly what turned the election against Rs,


    (2) all the Rubio, Jindal, and J Bush blather about talking more inclusively (not being more inclusive, mind you, just choosing less obviously jaundiced language)

    Poor white male dopes cain’t win fer losin’

  8. It’s funny that this is recent considering house republicans sponsored H.R. 4970 and H.R. 4982.
    -4970 passed the house but then died in the senate.
    -4982, which looks suspiciously like S. 1925 died in committee

    S. 1925 is the Violence against women reauthorization act of 2012 that passed in the senate.

    In short this whole bit is irrelevant as the reauthorization act already passed in May of 2012.

    A link to the Senate bill:

    A link to the republican backed bills:

    1. When the House passes one version of a bill, and the Senate passes another, no bill becomes law. The Violence Against Women Act expired at midight December 31.

  9. Mark’s mention of “rapists” is odd, since the proposed revisions to the act wouldn’t give tribal governments authority to enforce rape laws against non-native men. If that’s necessary, then it’s the bill’s proponents who have let us down. (As they’ve let the Indian women of Alaska down; Alaskan tribes are generally not provided the same authority. Mark I’m sure is offended and outraged.)

    Perhaps Mark can tell us why the better solution to address the problem isn’t a new federal program, which he favors in every other instance. Is there some reason that federal prosecutors can’t be trusted here?

    Why is it that state governments aren’t given concurrent jurisdiction for these offenses?

    Would failed prosecutions under the authority provided by the statute prevent, through the prohibition on double jeopardy, prosecutions in federal courts?

    The proposed amendment says that defendants are entitled to “all other rights whose protection is necessary under the Constitution of the United States in order for Congress to recognize and affirm the inherent power of the participating tribe to exercise special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction over the defendant.” Why doesn’t it simply say “all other rights whose protection is necessary under the Constitution of the United States”? (Would Mark be ok if we delegated authority (er, sorry, recognized authority) over certain other crimes committed by non-Indians to tribal authorities on these same standards? Maybe all extraterritorial crimes, or all crimes involving terrorism against the US.)

  10. There may actually be considerable due process issues in tribal courts.
    For instance, there is no right to appointed counsel for indigent defendants.
    Shouldn’t that be of concern?

    1. Exactly. Not to mention the other horrific denials of due process that occur on a daily basis in tribal courts.

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